The Penn Laird sky threatened rain on Saturday, but the ODAC Cross Country Championships at Peak View Elementary went mostly untouched by precipitation. The course conditions seemed to suit EMU’s men’s and women’s teams quite well, as both finished better than their preseason ODAC ranking.
After placing second in the ODAC preview meet in August, the women’s team had high expectations for the final ODAC meet. However, with Sophomore Katie Eckman missing the race due to injury and First-Year Jolee Paden running through an illness, the team’s score took a bit of a hit.
Washington & Lee, Bridgewater, and Lynchburg all finished ahead of EMU with 29, 51, and 85 points, respectively. EMU finished in fourth with 92 total points.
Despite the difficulties the women’s team faced throughout the day, many highlights stand out. First-Year Hannah Chappell-Dick finished in sixth overall with a time of 24:07.52, 45 seconds faster than her first race on the Peak View course, and Senior Alli Eanes finished in the top 14 with a time of 24:50.95.
These performances earned Chappell-Dick a place on the All-ODAC First Team and Eanes a place on the All-ODAC Second Team.
Junior Krista Rittenhouse, Sophomore Lanae Kreider, and First-Year Juni Schirch also scored, as all of EMU’s top five runners finished in the top 40.
Chappell-Dick feels the day was positive overall. “We did our best with what we had,” Chappell-Dick said. “The best part of the day was at the awards ceremony where, even though we didn’t finish how we wanted, we still cheered the loudest.”
In the men’s race, EMU finished in sixth place with 146 total points, within 12 points of third place. Junior Dan Nafziger ran a solid race for the Royals, taking sixth place and a spot on the All-ODAC First Team with a time of 26:55.07.
First-Year Carlos Orellana returned from a seven-week hiatus to finish eighteenth with a time of 28:07.83. Junior Robert Ketcher, Sophomore Jesse Parker, and First-Year Patrick Graber rounded out the scoring for EMU.
Nafziger was especially pleased with the end of his race. “The course is hilly and separation can occur very easily if someone makes a big move,” Nafziger said. “I faded a bit in the middle but was able to close well and catch a lot of people.”
The next step for EMU’s teams is a trip to Emory, Georgia for the South/Southeast Regional on November 10. Both Chappell-Dick and Nafziger are excited for the meet.
Nafziger noted that many teams back off their training this time of year, whereas EMU will work on staying sharp over the next weeks. “I’m looking forward to running considerably faster at Regionals when all of my competitors are fading,” Nafziger said.
Chappell-Dick sees the race as a chance to prove something. “I think that we’re definitely out to prove that we’re better than our conference place suggests,” Chappell-Dick said. She added that preparation will be key to the team’s success.
“We’re all as fit as we’re going to get, so the only thing that’s left is to sharpen our foot speed and, most importantly, our minds.”
Ryan Eshleman, News Editor